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Basboosa Recipe

This is made from semolina, with a sweet lemony syrup. I have had versions with coconut as well and I am sure it had a different name, but I can’t recall what it might be. This uses something called semnah (or samne or samnah or just samn depending on where you encounter it) which is either clarified butter (ghee) or vegetable oils. We used melted unsalted butter. The recipe posted also calls for caster sugar, but we used regular white granulated sugar.

The recipe posted here is from the book Lebanese Cooking by Susan Ward. It’s not a bad book, since it has many of the recipes that we were looking for, but I’d recommend reading through the recipes before you try it, and if you have any experience with these foods, adjusting to your particular taste. For example – for Basboosa, she says don’t get it too soggy, and then makes it with less semnah than traditionally used. We like it soaking in syrup and rich in butter.

Recipe (more or less):


  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 225 g semolina
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 350 ml yoghurt
  • 5 -6 tbsp semnah (or melted butter)


  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp fresh lime juice (ok…so the recipe probaby asked for lemon juice 😉 )
  • few drops of orange blossom water (rose water would be a good alternative)

Put all syrup ingredients in pan with about 1/2 cup water and let boil until consistency of golden syrup


1. Mix caster sugar, semolina and baking soda together

2. Add yoghurt, mix well

3. Add melted butter

4. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350°F oven

5. Set whole blanched almonds onto top of cake (or sprinkle sliced almonds like we did!)

6. Bake for 30 minutes until golden

7. Cool cake for 10 minutes, cut into squares or diamonds

8. Pour syrup all over cake

Variation: Add some shredded coconut to the mix!

Basboosa always reminds of a cake Lilandra made once for Mother’s Day. Some old old cake recipe for mothers, that she got off some list she was a part of years ago, that called for semolina. We didn’t have semolina. Want to know what she used? Cream of Wheat. She read the ingredients and figured it was a decent enough match. We didn’t really know any better. It was not a bad cake and somewhat similar to this – it was very dense, moist and über-sweet.

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11 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. 1) I know in the MSA they called it harisa or harissa which also seems to be some sort of spice

    2) On the Heyer list I got it from the current list leader (then she wasn’t) who I think is from New Zealand. It was called a mothering cake or something like that. Mom told me to use the cream of wheat.

    3) thief

    1. Lilandra on May 11th, 2007 at 5:32 pm
  2. what are you alleging I stole?
    worse yet, LIBELER!!!

    Here they call it Harissa – Egyptian?

    This kinda looks like the cake you made. I remember lots of ground almonds?

    2. chennette on May 11th, 2007 at 5:46 pm
  3. My basboosa

    3. Lilandra on May 11th, 2007 at 6:29 pm
  4. Harissa was the name my father called it when we used coconut to make it

    4. trinimom on May 11th, 2007 at 7:41 pm
  5. I know harissa as a pepper sauce :O

    5. The TriniGourmet on May 12th, 2007 at 2:02 pm
  6. yeah i heard of that *after*

    6. Lilandra on May 12th, 2007 at 3:48 pm
  7. Sounds delicious, will have to try it. You would be really proud of me, I have been baking – lots of different things. Little girl is getting really good at greasing tins…she’s very meticulous (like her dad).

    7. Hmmm on May 12th, 2007 at 6:03 pm
  8. child labour – using a little not-yet-two year old 😉
    well, baking is a good reason not to be online I suppose…

    8. chennette on May 12th, 2007 at 6:22 pm
  9. oh, I baked cupcakes tonight, from scratch ..without a mixer. What a bad idea, my hand aches…. Have to wait until the little ones get up to see what they think of ‘theirs’. The other Aberdonian loved his – added some cherries and a splash of cherry brandy.

    9. Hmmm on May 13th, 2007 at 6:27 pm
  10. to his…not trying to get the kids drunk…just full.

    10. Hmmm on May 13th, 2007 at 6:28 pm
  11. :-) you keep logging off every time you send a message
    waiting for any pictures, even those of cupcakes – Happy Mother’s Day (from this side of the pond)

    11. chennette on May 13th, 2007 at 6:30 pm

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] for the day before and the day of Eid, and both had started implementing already (Lilandra made the basboosa on Wednesday and Mom started putting the kibbe together so we could just bake it on Saturday). We […]

  2. […] Nankathai, Halwa, Maleeda…cake and cookies…ice cream…currants rolls, sweetbread, basboosa, baklava…what are you making? what are you looking forward to enjoying at Muslim homes this […]

  3. […] We’ve even tried konaffa/kataifi when the shredded kataifi pastry was available. And basboosa, a sweet syrupy dish made with semolina, yoghurt and coconut. Mamoul (little date and nut filled […]

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